Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, the speaker of the house of representatives, says it is untrue the claim by Professor Osodeke, the president of Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), that he has assured them during negotiations that their salary backlog would be paid to them.
ASUU is asking the government to pay its members eight months’ salaries covering the period of its strike.
In a statement issued on his behalf by Benjamin Kalu, the spokesperson for the house of representatives, Gbajabiamila said the legislature merely “helped resolve the strike by making commitments to improve the welfare package of university lecturers and revitalisation funds to improve the infrastructure and operations of federal universities.”
The statement further stated: “These commitments are reflected in the 2023 Appropriation Bill, which includes N170,000,000,000.00) to provide a level of increment in the welfare package of university lecturers and an additional N300,000,000,000.00 in revitalisation funds.
“Furthermore, the House of Representatives continues to work with stakeholders – the Accountant General of the Federation and the Academic Staff Union of Universities to facilitate the adoption of elements of the University Transparency and Accountability Solution into the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System. This effort is being supervised by the Chairman of the House Committee on Tertiary Education, Rep. Aminu Suleiman.
“Professor Emmanuel Osodeke knows that the Federal Government of Nigeria is under no obligation to pay university lecturers’ salaries for the duration they were on strike. This is a settled matter in law. See S. 43(1)(a) Trade Disputes Act, Cap T8, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria (LFN). The Executive decision not to pay salaries to lecturers for the time spent on strike is warranted by the government’s legitimate interest in preventing moral hazard and discouraging disruptive industrial actions. Nonetheless, the Speaker has made interventions for an exemption in this regard, and Professor Osodeke is well aware of this.”
“Professor Osodeke’s bad-faith approach to negotiations and his affinity for political brinkmanship are significant reasons the universities were on strike for so long. His ongoing interventions continue to threaten the progress being made to preclude the possibility of further disruptions to the academic calendar of the universities.
“Therefore, I call on him, in his capacity as President of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, to desist from making further misleading statements against the House of Representatives and the Speaker, Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila. There is no place for hostility and selfish agitation in this critical moment. This is the time for calm heads and steady hands, working together for the common good.”